‘Silks of the East’ – a one-of-a-kind exhibition that showcases the unexplored side of Silk

 ‘Silks of the East’ – a one-of-a-kind exhibition that showcases the  unexplored side of Silk

The famous Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta once said, “Silk does for the body what diamonds do for the hand”. It is rightly said that the richness, the lustre of silk, can never be understated. A timeless silk saree is a must-have in every woman’s arsenal. The exclusivity of the material offers a sensual sophistication to any occasion by accentuating the ensemble. Indian silks are regarded as the most beautiful and coveted in the world. Traditional, handcrafted silk always outperforms the mechanised ones in terms of uniqueness, class, pattern, texture and most importantly,
However, as much as we’ve heard about the silks of the South, the ‘Silks of the East’ haven’t received much-deserved recognition. Besides, the artisan community in the eastern side of India is a gem that is yet to be explored. And that’s the idea behind Ummaira’s forthcoming exhibition. Ummaira is a hand-picked ethnic apparel line for the ‘woman of today’, who is fun, fearless and dares to flaunt her attitude. Their product line includes luxury blouses, signature sarees, opulent lehengas, and fun skirts that blend handcrafted embroidery with silks and textiles from all across India.
The clothing brand is all set to bring to light and promote the lesser-known ‘Silks of the East’ in their one-of-a-kind exhibition that will be held from 25th to 27th of February at their store in Lake errace. The exhibition will honour the efforts and fabulous works of eastern silk weavers who put their blood, sweat and tears into silk production. The eastern side of the nation is home to different species of silk like Mulberry, Muga, Paat, Eri, Tassar, Ghicha, Baluchari and Jamdani, to name but a few. Embellished with intricate weaving techniques, the homegrown silks of the East depict scenes from Indian epics on sarees. The Moirang Phee of Manipur or the interesting folklore exhibited through hand-painting techniques in the Madhubani sarees of Bihar or the
much-coveted Patachitra heritage of Orissa, for example. Ummaira seeks to highlight the versatility, beauty and comfort of the enduring and appealing silks of the East on par with those from the South and West in the much-awaited exhibition. The essence of the exhibition lies in their promotion, preservation and propagation of the richness and beauty of the eastern weaving techniques
that people are most ignorant of.
Upon being asked about the ideation behind the exhibition, Debaroopa Bhattacharya – the owner of Ummaira, stated, “Like pearls concealed in oysters, silks of eastern India are precious gems that carry our heritage but have languished under layers of ignorance and apathy for far too long while their more fortunate cousins like the Kanjeevaram, Banarasi, Paithani etc. are lauded and celebrated as inseparable organs of all sorts of festivities and auspicious events in our country and beyond. In fact, it’s very disheartening to see the plight of our limited eastern weavers, who are now facing challenges to showcase their talent. The whole idea behind this exhibition is to promote the dying art of eastern silk weaving and encourage people to accept something so beautiful that is otherwise overlooked.” The clothing brand has come up with four fresh looks, and they got none other than the fashionista, Bengali model and actress Tnusree Chakraborty, to flaunt the looks. Tnusree Chakraborty, who has already made quite an impact in the past by doing her bit for the society, is completely supportive and vocal about this thoughtful initiative of keeping the craftsmanship of eastern weavers alive. Look 1: Mekhala Chador Tnusree wins hearts as she dons a traditional Mekhala Chador, an indigenous traditional outfit of Assam. She looks absolutely stunning in this outfit, teamed up with a statement necklace. This masterpiece of a drape showcases the rich Assamese culture with its handcrafted finery and exquisite blend of hues and shades.
Look 2: Kessa Paat Tnusree looks ethereal in this white Kessa Paat saree by Ummaira! The easy-breezy look oozes a sophistry that is infectious. She completed her look with a messy bun and golden earrings, keeping as minimal as possible. Light and feather-like, this handwoven piece beautifully encapsulates the artistic essence of Assam. Look 3: Madhubani art The actress, in this traditional Tassar saree, looks elegant. The beautiful Madhubani artwork all over the saree is a tribute to the dying art by our very own weavers of Bihar. She draped the saree with sheer elegance,
teamed up with a bindi and matte red lip colour. Look 4: Swarnachuri silk This masterpiece of a drape is the heritage of Bengal. Swarnachuri silk, which is often referred to as the illustrious sister of Baluchari silk saree, adorns gold thread work all throughout. Known for its intricate patterns and figurines, Tnusree teamed the saree up with a beautiful choker necklace and gajra, the look is worth a mention. Look 5: Jamdani The Jamdani, which has its roots in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is an art in itself. This beauty of a drape is adorned with a generous spread of flower and twine design motifs to perfection on a bed of sheer muslin in the most endearing blue and purple hues. The actress paired the saree with a handcrafted blouse and minimal accessories. Other than these, the exhibition will also showcase silks like Bishnupur Katan, Tassar Benarasi, Katha on Tassar, Ikkat and Patachitra from Orissa, Bhagalpur Tassar and Moirang Phee from Manipur, among
others. The range starts from Rs. 4,000-5,000 and goes up to Rs. 30,000. “I am so happy to be a part of this thoughtful initiative, where non-governmental organisations like The Rangeen Khidki and Y-East are also a part. Ummaira will not just be reviving the ancient crafts through the collection but also be retelling the tales of karigari. We want our very talented eastern weavers to look forward to bright and beautiful days. I will be there, and I would like you all to support the indigenous crafts and join us in revering the rich heritage of eastern India”, said actress Tnusree Chakraborty, who is supporting this entire initiative. Ummaira would also put forward 10% sale proceeds from the exhibition to support the developmental work by The Rangeen Khidki, a youth-led organisation working in the space of sexual and reproductive health and rights with adolescents and youth, backed by Y-East – founded by Pauline Laravoire & Meghdut Roychowdhury.
Co-founder and CEO of Y-East – a homegrown platform dedicated to social and environmental impact, Pauline Laravoire stated, “Ummaira’s Silks of the East is a landmark effort towards highlighting sustainability and preserving the wonderful art of silk from the region, and on many levels: sustaining the weavers’ livelihoods, promoting silk as a more sustainable fiber, shed light on the incredible craftsmanship talents Eastern India has to offer. At Y-East, and as our name suggests, we are also big believers in the existing inspiring changemakers and potential of the region, and are proud to be associated to this endeavour.”

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